A major research study reveals ground-breaking insights into the impact arts learning has on young people’s language development and confidence.

Time to Act, funded by Paul Hamlyn Foundation highlights why Shakespeare and arts learning matters in education.

Researchers found significant improvements in the way young people use language, both written and spoken. The young people targeted also showed greater self-confidence, reporting they felt more confident as learners and better able to deal with problems and challenges.

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Director of Creative Learning Jacqui O’Hanlon

"The results provide data that supports what we have known for many years – arts education plays a significant role in improving the life-chances of young people. We know that talent is everywhere, but opportunity is not. We want all young people to be resilient and feel confident in their ability to overcome challenges and solve problems. These are capabilities that expressive arts subjects build and which young people will use throughout their lives."

The study, conducted by our independent academic researchers, focussed on Year 5 pupils at 45 state-maintained primary schools across England, all with above average eligibility for free school meals:

  • Schools were randomly assigned to either be in the intervention or control group.
  • Teachers in the intervention group took part in five days of professional development with the RSC, then delivered 20 hours of Shakespeare teaching to Year 5 pupils using RSC approaches.
  • Control schools delivered their existing curriculum and didn't take part in RSC professional development.
  • Researchers then analysed the children's work, against 42 measures. Children in the intervention group outperformed the children in the control group in 98% of the measures.

The results show a positive connection between the combination of Shakespeare’s language and RSC teaching approaches, and on children’s academic, social and emotional development.

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